The month of October came to a close and along with it, the first month of my Happiness Project. So far, I am enjoying this experiment. Furthermore, I have already acquired some important lessons.
Month One Summary
Halfway through October, I sensed I was failing at this action step: I was seldom in bed by 9 pm as I had pledged to do. However, in the course of time, I realized “sleep” was not a total bust.
First, while I did not religiously hit the sack by 9, I was usually asleep by 10:15. Scarcely did I stay up past eleven, a vast improvement for me. Moreover, I commonly slept 7 to 8 hours per night which is well within the guidelines for adults.
These results may indicate that 9 pm is not a realistic bedtime goal for me and I am now okay with this fact.
Strategies which help me get a better night sleep:
- A glass of warm milk or a cup of chamomile tea is beneficial.
- I keep a very dark room, no lights of any kind.
- I also have an eye mask – which I refer to as “my shutters” – I use it on occasion when the room is too bright.
- Getting off the computer early in the evening is also an excellent way to wind down.
- I have also installed a program called F.lux on all my devices to counteract the blue light emanating from my screens.
- I cannot go to bed hungry, or I will wake up in the middle of the night wanting a snack. Another good reason why a glass of milk before retiring to bed works well for me.
- My reading material needs to be enjoyable and not too stimulating. Reading cannot require so much brain power that I have to concentrate and stay very alert.
- Being active during the day helps me feel tired at night, especially going for a walk.
- A small notepad on my nightstand is helpful to jot down last minute thoughts and ideas before bedtime.
- Since becoming a mother, I hear every sounds in the house as well as out of the house: barking dogs, howling coyotes, and the fridge opening when a child gets up for a snack or a drink. I have invested in THREE white noise makers: One for my bedroom, one for when I travel and one for a child who has a trauma history (the ocean sounds are very soothing).
- I often diffuse essential oils in my room. Lavender, chamomile or a calming blend are excellent choices.
I focused on mindful eating and was successful most of the time. I did splurge on occasion such as the Sunday my husband brought home donuts, and I ate – gasp – two of them, a rarity for me. I am usually not fond of donuts so what came over me that particular day? Who knows?
I am happy to say; I did not allow myself to feel remorse for indulging.
I was active every day in big and small ways. My favorite activity is trail walking. I also enjoy yoga.
I decided to start wearing a pedometer I had laying around. I must admit this small device is quite efficient at keeping me active.
Some of the tips I gathered:
- From my research, integrative exercise – also called fundamental exercise – is the most beneficial form of fitness long-term. The central concept is focused on movement rather than “exercising,” preferably movements we enjoy and already perform on a daily basis. Functional exercise usually means you don’t have to deal with classes or specialized equipment. Owing to the fact we can sneak this type of fitness in anywhere, we are far more likely to stick with it. If you are interested in further information about functional exercise, you may find this article helpful.
- Although I was familiar with the advice “park further away” I was not necessarily practicing it. I was content with parking “not super close.” One day, while running errands, I decided to put this suggestion into practice. My first stop was at Wal-mart, and I parked at the other end of the lot. I looked at my pedometer before going in, 1200 steps. After doing my shopping, I had 2200 more steps! Woo-hoo. This advice works!
- Additionally, I also discovered that “parking further” means there – usually – will not be close “return your cart here station.” This fact implies you will log in some additional steps when returning your cart where it belongs.
- You will also be endowed with additional steps if you – like me – forget your wallet in your car because you will have to trot all the way to your car (at the very end of the parking lot) and trot all the way back preferably before the persons next in line get antsy.
- Rather than exercise because you are supposed to or because “it’s good for me,” perform activities you genuinely enjoy. Such practices as walking, gardening, line dancing indeed all count as fitness.
1. Todoist is a great (free) app which has worked wonders for me. I not only keep track of my tasks and their accompanying due dates, but I also have created categories as memos. None of these “tasks” have a due date. For me, this method is a terrific way to jot down ideas. For example, I have an “ideas for kids” categories in which I keep track of places I would like to visit or activities I will like to do with my kiddos. This application has helped me tremendously by first, holding the paper clutter down; second, being more organized; and third, being more mindful.
2. I also love Excel Spreadsheets (or in my case Open Office). I organized addresses and birthdays with this software.
3. I used to be the owner of a recipe blog. Therefore, I have collected many recipes over the years. Most of them were in loose form and kept in a folder. I decided to organize them by using Google Drive.
This idea is not original to me as I found it in a blog post while doing some research. I settled on using this model after reading many articles trying to find an appropriate app. I tried a couple of the app mentioned in various blog posts although I did not find any of them suitable to my needs.
Google Drive is very similar to Excel. The feature I like is best is that I can quickly create a folder with multiple files. This process makes it easy to find a recipe by just searching one word in the search bar.
4. I cleaned my computer clutter: emails, pictures, files, etc.
5. I now enter all my purchase receipts in my bank register daily as well as I reconcile my account weekly. These new habits not only make the task of balancing my checkbook easier, but they also help me contain the clutter on my desk. An additional – and unexpected – benefit is that I keep better track of my budget.
6. I have followed my commandment of “do it now” pretty faithfully. For this reason, every piece of paper is put away immediately. Ditto with the laundry, food, etc.
7. My closet is clean and organized.
8. I discovered an unexpected lesson while implementing these resolutions. Going through the process of cleaning and organizing has made me more mindful of what I purchase. I now mindfully ponder each prospective acquisition before making my final purchase. I ask myself such questions as “Is this something I really need or will I be giving it away to Goodwill in a few months?”, “Could I do a DIY version of this item?”
9. I found a notetaking app called Evernote. I hope this software will assist me in keeping my various notes organized.
I am not done organizing. I still have the garage, some of the kitchen and the daily maintenance of keeping up with a busy household in which most of its inhabitants are children…enough said.
Moreover, my brother and his wife came to visit me at the end of the month for the very first time! I decided such an important visit came first before my resolutions.
Smart Use of Time
Again, Todoist is a fantastic aid for me in this department. I am less “all over the place” and a lot more productive. It is incredible what I can get done when I have a plan, a way to keep everything together and organized, and a way to be reminded of my daily intentions.
Social media has been a non-issue. I did clean my friends’ list on Facebook at the beginning of the month. Persons I never hear from were unfriended. Overall I think I unfriended about 20 persons or less. It still feels great and in a strange way, more manageable.
I was amazed at this paradox: I was able to read a lot more books than usual while also accomplishing much more than usual meanwhile I also avoided being overly frazzled.
I carry my phone with me during my walks for safety reasons. However, since I also listen to books on tapes and can’t write while strolling in the desert, I also use the “note” feature along with the voice recognition feature of my phone. I dictate notes, tips, or thoughts. I find this feature very helpful. I also use it while on the road as “ideas” come to me.
The Biggest Lesson of the Month
My most significant lesson wasn’t found in all the tasks I was able to accomplish but rather in the fact that being intentional – or mindful – causes me to be more content and therefore happier with my life. Rather than being carried mindlessly by life’s ebb and flow, I am able to engage with what is within my reach to control while letting go of the rest.
Indeed an excellent lesson to learn.
Definition of intentional:
1. done by intention or design : intended ~ intentional damage